As the season progresses, bullpen struggles are becoming more and more common for the Chicago White Sox, and it’s beginning to frustrate manager Ozzie Guillen.
The White Sox look to bounce back from blowing another lead when they face Jered Weaver and the Los Angeles Angels at U.S. Cellular Field on Friday night.
Chicago’s relievers have faltered in the late innings three times in the past week, and a 7-4 defeat to Oakland on Wednesday left Guillen particularly angry.
The White Sox (7-5) led by three going into the ninth, but Chris Sale gave up three runs and closer Matt Thornton allowed three more in the 10th. Thornton has four blown saves in five appearances.
“There’s nothing to even describe it right now. Frustration is pretty high,” Thornton said. “Confidence isn’t the problem. It’s my frustration right now. It’s the most frustrated I’ve been in a long time. I can’t remember a run of games like this where I haven’t gotten the job done that many times in a row.”
Guillen said he doesn’t know who he’ll use to close. He sarcastically added that he might call former teammate Bobby Thigpen, who saved a then-major league record 57 games in 1990.
“I don’t have any closer. I don’t,” Guillen said. “You are just scratching your head and second-guess yourself what you are doing wrong, bringing people to the mound with three-run lead … and we can’t hold the lead. That’s not a good sign.”
Judging by Weaver’s first three starts, the White Sox might not have a lead to protect Friday.
Weaver (3-0, 0.87 ERA) had a career-high 15 strikeouts in 7 2-3 innings of his last outing, a 3-1 victory over Toronto on Sunday. He has walked nine and struck out 27 in 20 2-3 innings.
“I’m not going out there trying to strike everybody out,” Weaver said. “I’m just trying to get a first-pitch fastball over for a strike and trying to get ahead in the count and trying to keep my team in the game. And if it takes a couple of strikeouts here and there, then that’s what it’s going to take.”
The right-hander is 4-2 with a 1.70 ERA in seven career starts against the White Sox, though he lost both starts versus Chicago last season with a 4.85 ERA. He is 3-1 with a 1.73 ERA at U.S. Cellular Field.
The Angels (7-5) are seeking a season-high third straight win and seventh in nine games, but they’ve lost seven in a row to Chicago.
The White Sox will try to extend that streak behind Phil Humber (1-0, 3.38), who had a strong outing in his first start with the team.
Subbing for the injured Jake Peavy, the right-hander allowed one run and four hits over a career-high six innings of a 4-2 victory over Tampa Bay on Saturday.
“It’s just about relaxing, allowing yourself to get out of the way,” Humber said. “A lot of the times I’ve put too much pressure on myself. Now I feel a lot more relaxed and let my ability work.”
Humber has faced the Angels once, allowing two hits in two scoreless innings of relief Aug. 10 while with Kansas City.
Los Angeles swept a two-game set at U.S. Cellular on May 19 and 20 but suffered a four-game sweep there July 5-8.
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